Press release from Humboldt Mutual Aid:
“No Buses Needed: Humboldt Mutual Aid is Your Local Anarchist Collective”
If you went to a march recently, you may have seen Humboldt Mutual Aid’s big white tent. We’ve been at recent Black Lives Matter rallies and solidarity events offering our support to different groups and actions. We are the friendly folks handing out free food, hand sanitizer, masks, water, tea, art supplies, and information.
While we at Humboldt Mutual Aid are glad to be present at these rallies, we’ve been working locally for a few years now, and we get the feeling it is time to formally introduce ourselves to the public.
Humboldt Mutual Aid is an autonomous collective composed of scholars, artists, activists, and farmers working to build dual power in the community and prepare for natural and social disasters. We identify and gather resources to directly distribute to those in our community materially harmed by the structures of our society. We also use humor and art to inspire others and mock oppressive authority.
I’m sorry, y’all are what now? We are a group of folks who cook and garden together. We hand out free food and provide educational materials to the public. We show up to protests and city council meetings. We have weekly decision meetings with agendas and voting. It’s all very thoughtful and organized. We are basically clowns armed with personal protective equipment, a commercial kitchen, and radical literature.
During the COVID-19 crisis, Humboldt Mutual Aid has provided 150+ free hot meals almost every week for the last few months. We have delivered groceries to folks keeping quarantine. We have picked up and delivered critical medication for some of our most vulnerable and isolated community members. When police evict folks (yes, during COVID!), we try to step in, reach into our pockets, and fund temporary shelter. Most of our ability to do this comes from community donations in the form of food and funds (wanna help? need aid?).
Before COVID, Humboldt Mutual Aid organized letter writing for incarcerated people, taught folks to make disaster-preparedness kits, organized educational reading groups, and last year we hosted our very first skillshare— a free 3-day event teaching folks everything from seed saving, to wound and fracture care, and the critical necessity of Indigenous cultural fire management practices.
How come I’ve never heard of you? In the past, we have tried to not make a very big deal about our work. We aren’t a 501(c)3: we are simply a group of folks with shared values trying to make a difference. We’re about solidarity, not charity. We care about feeding and sheltering folks— not marketing.
So, why come forward now? Well, there has been much talk of anarchists as of late. Donald Trump’s recent Executive Order lambasts “Marxists” and “anarchists” as “violent extremists” who “traveled across State lines to promote their violent agenda.”
Locally, our police also demonstrate a questionable amount of paranoia of their very own. In 2017, Sheriff William Honsal bemoaned the rise of “punk squads” composed of “youngsters 12 and 13 years old” who “all have cell phones.” This June, Honsal began (in)famously promoting a conspiracy theory, claiming “busloads of ANTIFA” were coming to Humboldt County. Honsal remains certain of this supposedly nefarious presence, certain he can sniff out ANTIFA, but didn’t quite say how he knows who is and is not a “member” of this non-organization. Steve Watson, Chief of EPD, stated similar beliefs of “anarchists” who he “suspect[ed] bused here,” while seeming to downplay police and other vehicles attempting to drive through crowds of protestors.
While funny as heck, these statements are also deeply concerning. By villainizing political thought, those in authority can begin to justify violent actions against perceived dissenters. These comments are a threat to the basic freedom of association. This language does the ideological groundwork of beginning to snip away our already meager rights, in a time when, across the nation, journalists and activists are being brutalized by police.
“[W]e are peace… Blessed are the peacekeepers,” Honsal would declare, less than 24 hours after his officers, head to toe in riot gear, fired pepper bullets into a crowd of protestors marching against police brutality, “for they shall be called the children of God.”
In the context of increasing militarized violence, misinformation, and authoritarianism, we feel now is the right time to make ourselves clear to our community: Humboldt Mutual Aid is an anarchist organization.
We are anti-capitalist. We are anti-racist. We are (gasp!) anti-fascist.
We are anarchists, and we move and work in solidarity with all those fighting and thriving in myriad ways against the violence of this white supremacist, settler-colonial, patriarchal, neoliberal empire— the so-called United States.
So, here we are, for the world to see. Your very own friendly neighborhood anarchists (no buses required!). We are scholars and clowns. We are artists and orators. We are students and farmers. We are medics, herbalists, and environmentalists. We are multi-racial. We are Queer. We are Indigenous, and we are settlers. We are witches and policy wonks. We are professionals, and we are punks. We are deeply embedded in this community, and we will cook, laugh, and speak into existence a world without capitalism, carcerality, and colonialism. One free meal at a time.
So, come and get us. We aren’t hard to find. We’re at your local protest handing out granola bars and legal info, and we are here for the long haul.
Love, Rage, and LandBack!
Humboldt Mutual Aid